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Tookie and Mumia

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The governor of Maureen Faulkner’s home state has just shown appropriate support for the memory of her deceased Philadelphia police officer husband who was murdered 24-years ago last Friday by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

I refer not to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, but to California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In denying clemency for Stanley “Tookie” Williams, Schwarzenegger cited Williams’ support of convicted cop killer Abu-Jamal, among others, as an indication of Williams’ lack of repentance while behind bars.

Three hours after Williams’ death by lethal injection, I broke that news to Maureen Faulkner who was shocked but grateful to hear that Schwarzenegger had acknowledged Williams’ support for the man who killed her husband in the line of duty on a cold December night nearly a quarter-century ago.

“These weeks have been very emotional for me because people have been bringing up Danny’s case out hear in California,” she told me. “Last week I was driving home from work and a talk radio station was discussing Williams and Abu-Jamal, and there was Mike Farrell, saying many of the same things he has said in Danny’s case. I just pulled over and started crying. It’s been 24-years, and I am a strong woman, but it was emotional to hear it once again.”

Schwarzenegger’s denial of clemency for Williams’s is a must read. The five-page document starts by recounting the facts of that case.

“During the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three others went on a robbery spree. Around 4 a.m., they entered a 7-Eleven store where Albert Owens was working by himself. Here, Williams, armed with his pump action shotgun, ordered Owens to a backroom and shot him twice in the back while he lay face down on the floor. Williams and his accomplices made off with about $120 from the store’s cash register. After leaving the 7-Eleven store, Williams told
the others that he killed Albert Owens because he did not want any witnesses. Later that morning, Williams recounted shooting Albert Owens, saying “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him.” Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes.

“On March 11, 1979, less than two weeks later, Williams, again armed with his shotgun, robbed a family-operated motel and shot and killed three members of the family: (1) the father, Yen-I Yang, who was shot once in the torso and once in the arm while he was laying on a sofa; (2) the mother, Tsai-Shai Lin, who was shot once in the abdomen and once in the back; and (3) the daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, who was shot once in her face. For these murders, Williams made away with approximately $100 in cash. Williams also told others about the details of these murders and referred to the victims as “Buddha-heads.”

Schwarzenegger noted that the basis of Williams’ clemency request was not innocence, but rather, the “personal redemption Stanley Williams has experienced and the positive impact of the message he sends.”

A message, his supporters have been quick to point out, that he had offered in writing in the form of books written behind bars.

What Williams did not count on was that the Governor, or members of his staff, would take the time to read the books. And when they did, they found that in his 1998 “Life in Prison”, Williams dedicated the book to “Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the countless other men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars.”

Wrote the Governor: “The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement,” a reference, not doubt, to Abu-Jamal’s execution of Faulkner. Schwarzenegger found this list to be a “significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems.”

George Jackson, who along with Abu-Jamal was one of Williams’ role models, warranted a footnote of his own in Schwarzenegger’s statement. There he was identified as a “militant activist and prison inmate who founded the violent Black Guerilla Family prison gang. Jackson was charged with the murder of a San Quentin correctional officer. In 1970, when Jackson was out to court in Marin County on the murder case, his brother stormed the courtroom with a machine gun, and along with Jackson and two other inmates, took a judge, the prosecutor and three others hostage in an escape attempt. Shooting broke out. The prosecutor was paralyzed from a police bullet, and the judge was killed by a close-range blast to his head when the shotgun taped to his throat was fired by one of Jackson’s accomplices. Jackson’s brother was also killed. Then, three days before trial was to begin in the correctional officer murder case, Jackson was gunned down in the upper yard at San Quentin Prison in another foiled escape attempt on a day of unparalleled violence in the prison that left three officers and three inmates dead in an earlier riot that reports indicate also involved Jackson.”

I shared all of this with Maureen Faulkner.

“I feel as though justice was done to this man who has never actually said he murdered these individuals, he denied it, he never apologized and it’s a sad thing for the families, but at least they have peace,” she said.

She was referring to the sort of peace she still seeks.

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